Much like a car after a few nasty fender benders, once a band covers the unspeakably horrible Pantera (as traumatically witnessed on 2011’s digital-only Recorrupted EP), it’s never really the same again. But in the case of Knoxville bruisers Whitechapel —a band whose first three albums featured some of the most tactically surgical Deathcore brutality the genre’s haters will ever miss out on— I feel like I at least owe them a test drive. That said, 2012’s self-titled full-length was by no means a smooth ride. In what some felt was an effort to appease the anti-Deathcore majority that comprises what’s left of extreme music print journalism, the group abandoned many of their signature elements in favor of a more straightforward —albeit sterilized— Death Metal style. Sadly, Our Endless War is a continuation of that approach. Tom Petty once said, “Breakdown / Go ahead and give it to me / Breakdown / It’s all right,” but this sextet just isn’t listening anymore. After the intro, this album kicks off with its title track, an angry political number. Now that Whitechapel has addressed the corruption of American politics, I’m sure we’ll start to see these problems disappear before our very eyes. Musically the song feels like a Rocky training montage set to Death Metal, especially when the Italian Stallion would start effortlessly crisscrossing the jump-rope towards the end to emphasize his progress. “The Saw Is the Law” follows in more bouncy and bendy fashion, but for all its rhythmic swagger the song sorely lacks a hook. Still, there’s almost a breakdown at the end, and the bonehead in me just can’t resist Phil Bozeman’s militant machinegun vocal pattern. Next up is “Mono,” which begins with unsettling Slipknot breathing. It ends far better with Bozeman growling “KILL YOURSELF,” but I’m still waiting on that hook. “Let Me Burn” might be as close as I’ll get. The track at least locks into a strong headbangable groove with solid lyrics in tow. Probably the closest thing to old Whitechapel found here. Speaking of solid lyrics, I’m really feeling “Worship the Digital Age.” So much so, I’m considering having “SELL YOUR SOUL AND WORSHIP THE DIGITAL AGE” etched on my tombstone in Comic Sans. (Not that anyone would look up from their game of Candy Crush long enough to read it.) Unfortunately after these back-to-back highlights, the record descends into boring filler. The next three tracks are instantly forgettable, and the standard edition closes out with “Diggs Road,” which has to be the most energetic song about suicide ever written. Believe me, I thought about offing myself during those awful guitar solos. If you score the limited edition, you also get “A Process So Familiar” —more jump-rope filler— and “Fall of the Hypocrites,” which actually redeems itself with a taste of how Bozeman’s vocals used to sound, and a pit riff straight out of Internal Bleeding’s NYDM playbook.
In summary, this is better than I expected, but still a far cry from the brute force of the old days. I miss the heart-stopping breakdowns and I miss Bozeman at his most brutal. Dude once did guest vocals on a Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza cut (“The Alpha the Omega,” which also featured Despised Icon’s Alex Erian) that were so heavy they made my dickhole queef. If you can’t make my dickhole queef anymore, then what’s the point?
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